A unique tour-de-force of science-inspired art. Anna Lindemann is a brilliant animator, composer, and performer who really has the audience unsure whether she is biologist or artist as she tells us all what is necessary to truly learn to fly. This work marks the birth of a whole new genre.
— David Rothenberg (author, philosopher, musician)

Performance Preview

Research meets fantasy in Theory of Flight, a performance by Anna Lindemann, a composer and artist trained in evolutionary and developmental biology. In a twist on the ancient myth of Icarus, a lecturing scientist reveals she’s been growing her own wings using avian genes. Animated chalkboard diagrams convey the molecular biology, while vocal music and animated silhouettes advance the plot, about the risks and rewards of pursuing impossible research.

Theory of Flight features Lucy Fitz Gibbon, noted for her clear voice (Mittelbayerische Zeitung) and endearing stage presence (The New York Times), as the Bird Spirit, and Anna Lindemann as scientist Alida Kear. The music, animation, and story are created by Anna Lindemann.


Video of the Full Performance

Stills from Theory of Flight


Anna Lindemann | composer, animator, writer
Lucy Fitz Gibbon | soprano, bird spirit
Anna Lindemann | scientist Alida Kear
Kristen Demaree | director (ATLAS performance)
Emma Lunbeck | director (EMPAC premiere)
Alex Borinsky | director (Colgate performance)
Sara Holdren | director (Yale performance)
Kylin Mettler | costume design
Kathy High, Jim de Sève | videography (video)
Jay Maury | lighting designer (EMPAC premiere)
Andrew Freeburg | lighting designer (Yale performance)
Angel Eads | master electrician (EMPAC premiere)

William Fritz | rigging (EMPAC premiere)
Stephen McLaughin, Jeff Svatek | sound engineering (EMPAC premiere)
Julia Alsarraf, Eric Lindemann  | sound recording (EMPAC premiere)      
Synful Orchestra | electronic music realization
Anna Lindemann | video and music editing
Nicholas Stipinovich, Sena Clara Creston | props fabrication
Scott Keith | production coordinator (Yale performance)
Joe Eakin, Mike Roberts | stage technology (Colgate performance)
William Fritz, Geoff Mielke | stage technology (EMPAC premiere)
Eric Brucker, Mick Bello
Bonnie Mettler | graphic design
Ellie Markovitch & Rose Mitchell | Flying Feast designers

Theory of Flight was premiered and filmed at the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center in Troy NY in April 2011. Music, animation, and story created by Anna Lindemann. Performed by soprano Lucy Fitz Gibbon as the bird spirit and Anna Lindemann as the scientist. The premiere performance was directed by Emma Lunbeck with costumes by Kylin Mettler and lighting design by Jay Maury. The premiere was followed by a Flying Feast concocted by Ellie Markovitch and Rose Mitchell—a multi-taste experience inspired by the avian world. Performance development was funded in part by the Jaffe Fund for Experimental Media and Performing Arts and the RPI Arts Department.

Theory of Flight was premiered in partial completion of Anna Lindemann’s MFA in Integrated Electronic Arts at the Department of the Arts, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Anna's written thesis discusses the integration of biology and art and the creation of Theory of Flight, a performance intended to be an emotionally gripping and intellectually challenging experience emerging from the integration of music, performance, animation, and evolutionary developmental biology.

PDF of Theory of Flight written thesis

The Creation of Theory of Flight

2017 ATLAS Black Box Experimental Studio, University of Colorado Boulder, presented by CU Boulder's ATLAS Center for Media, Art and Performance - fully staged performance
2014 Euro Evo Devo Vienna Conference, The KLI Institute, Klosterneuburg, AUSTRIA - solo adaptation
2013 Yale University, New Haven, CT, produced through the Franke Program in Science and the Humanities - fully staged performance
2012 Entertaining Science Series: Fight Club, Cornelia Street Café, New York, NY - solo adaptation
2012 Survival of the Beautiful Wonder Cabinet, Cantor Film Center, New York University, New York, NY - solo adaptation
2012 Ho Tung Visualization Lab and Planetarium, Colgate University, Hamilton, NY, produced through the Colgate Arts Council - fully staged performance
2011 Natural History at Noon, Museum of the Earth, Ithaca, NY - solo adaptation
2011 Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) Goodman Studio, Troy, NY, produced through the Jaffe Fund for Experimental Media And Performing Arts and the RPI Arts Department - fully staged performance, premiere  

Performance History

Book a performance

We would love to perform Theory of Flight at your venue! Theory of Flight has been performed at a diversity of venues, from black box theater to natural history museum and planetarium, with a range of technical needs. The show can be presented as both a full theatrical performance and a solo adaptation. A technical rider and budget estimate can be provided upon request. Please contact Anna with booking inquiries. 


"Research meets fantasy in 'Theory of Flight'"
CU Boulder Today. March 22, 2017. 

“'Theory of Flight’ takes off” by Anya Grenier. 
Yale Daily News. February 27, 2013. 

“Growing Wings and Rising Oceans” by Jascha Hoffman. 
The New York Times. February 25, 2013. 

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“Anna Lindemann on Storytelling and Science” interview with Emma Komlos-Hrobsky. Tin House. May 15, 2012. 

“Theory of Flight show blends art and science at Viz Lab” by Katie Rice. 
Colgate News. February 28, 2012

A book excerpt highlighting Anna Lindemann's work
Survival of the Beautiful: Art, Science, and Evolution by David Rothenbrg. 
Bloomsbury Press. New York, NY. 2011.

Michael Century, Kathy High, Shawn Lawson, David Rothenberg, Eric Lindemann, Bonnie Mettler, Yohei Igarashi, Yehuda Duenyas, Jim de Sève, Ellie Markovitch, Rose Mitchell, Eleanor Liu, Branda Miller, Tomie Hahn, Laura Garrison, Jenn Mumby, Curtis Bahn, Larry Kagan, Bill Bergman, Amina Shabbeer, Jean Purtell, Bill Fritz, Johannes Goebel, Geoff Mielke, Laura Desposito, Eric Brucker, Mick Bello, Todd Vos, Stephen McLaughlin, Jeff Svatek, Stephanie Tribu-Cromme, Angel Eads, Ryan Jenkins, Jason Steven Murphy, Avery Stempel, Ian Hamelin, John Cook, Laura Perfetti, CathyJo Kile, Zhenelle Falk, Lynn Schwarzer, Joe Eakin, Virginia Jewiss, Kate Krier, Jeff Brenzel, the Jaffe Fund for the Experimental Media and Performing Arts, the RPI Arts Department, the Colgate Arts Council, the ATLAS Center for Media, Art and Performance, the Franke Program in Science and the Humanities, the Digital Media Center for the Arts, the Whitney Humanities Center, and Richard Prum and Antónia Monteiro

Special Thanks